The Terraced Horizon is based on a simple generative process – that of creating a window that isolates a fragment of material from some larger source, processing/playing/repeating that fragment, and then moving the window by some amount to cycle through the larger body of material. It’s a process that I’ve encountered in all sorts of different places – from Carl Stone’s “Shing Kee” (which conjures something rich and strange from an audio fragment of the Japanese pop singer Akiko Yano singing a Schubert lieder), to algorithmic composition software such as Cycling ‘74’s M, and even to the way I was taught to generate my part as a player in a central Javanese gamelan ensemble, where one identifies the proper portion of the notation (balungan) for a given tempo (irama), and the applies the pattern appropriate for the section when performing.
The piece cycles through a melodic sequence from a MIDI file and sends that data to a physically modeled piano (Modartt’s Pianoteq) tuned to a just intonational variant of a Javanese slendro scale. In my version of the Max patch that produces the pieces, the pitches, durations and velocities may be decoupled and allowed to play through, cycle, or repeat within a moving window that increments by some value at the conclusion of a fragment. This approach has proved to be a fruitful source for generative material and an interesting modality for live work (although this is a studio realization of the piece). The background is similarly derived by taking that same material and pitch-shifting or granulating it to produce additional material. What shape the piece has emerges quite directly from the source material and windowing processes themselves.
My thanks to Lars Graugaard and the folks at CLANG for their encouragement and audio assistance, to my collaborators (Brad Garton, Darwin Grosse, Tom Hamer, Mark Henrickson, Jeff Kaiser, and Terry Pender) for their company and inspiration, to Meniek Soerjosoetanto and Jennifer Munger for their invaluable linguistic insight and support along the way, and to Jolanda, who’s made it all possible. May this be worthy of then, and worthy of all of you who listen.
Generated by Gregory Taylor using Max/MSP
Recorded winter 2012-2013 at The Upper Room, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Mixed and mastered May 15 and 16, 2013 at Ju-Ju, Copenhagen, Denmark